Hellenic Nurses' Perception of their Public Image: A Phenomenological Approach

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Maria N. K. Karanikola
Faculty of Nursing, Cyprus University of Technology, Nicosia, Cyprus
Elizabeth D. E. Papathanassoglou
School of Nursing, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

Learning Objective 1: understand the way public image influences nurses' feelings about their job, as well as their intention to remain in the profession

Learning Objective 2: to reflect criticaly on methods and educational processes that will enhance nurses' professional status, and subsequent public image.

Purpose: To reveal the way nurses’ internalize their professional public image and relative status, as well as nurses’ feelings about that image.   

Methods: Through qualitative methodology by means of repeated phenomenological interviews with 19 members of nursing personnel, themes related to nurses’ public image and professional status were explored.

Results: A sense of inner awareness of nurses’ professional significance, mainly based on an intrinsic system of criteria, was revealed as the core theme of participants’ perception of their professional role, and as an absolute prerequisite for the perception of personal and professional appraisal. Within this framework, nurses’ negative public image did not seem to influence personal and professional esteem. On the contrary, nurses’ public image found to be a major source of professional dissatisfaction. Additional themes that emerged were a) persistent stereotypes b) the rationale for nurses’ public image, c) feelings about stereotypes and public image d) the diversity between personal and public image e) personal worth as a buffer system.

Conclusion: The public image of the nurse constitutes an important factor for recruitment into the profession, retention and professional satisfaction. Nurse managers and nurse educators need to be aware of the factors that influence nurses’ perception of their public image in order to enhance nurses professional status through educational processes and professionalization.